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Retirement Community Guide: What to Know Before Buying Into a 55 and Older Community

There were more than 74 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. in 2016. This means that there will be a lot of people retiring over the next 5 or 10 years.

As you get older, there are so many different options available to you about your future. And one of the most popular choices is buying into a 55 and older community.

But it can be tough to know what option will be best for you.

That’s why we created this guide all about the things you need to know before investing in a home in a 55 and older community.

Check out our pointers below!

Look for the Right Home

First and foremost, when looking at a 55 and older community, you need to make sure you find a home that works for you. You want to feel comfortable in your space, especially if you’re leaving the home you’ve lived in for years.

Almost every time that someone moves to a 55 plus community, it involves a downsize. You’ll probably have to sacrifice a little on size.

But you should find a home that still allows you to have the things that matter most to you. For example, are you into crafting or do you have a hobby that requires space? Try to find a place with a room that you can use for it.

It’s also important to find something that will work now, but that will also work in 15 or 25 years. Does this mean having a front door that’s wheelchair accessible? Maybe for you, this means having a one level unit so you’ll never have to deal with stairs.

Think about what’s most important for you before you start your search. It will make the process much simpler.

Think about Size:  Another 55 and Older Community Must

When it comes to 55 and older communities, there are all types of sizes across the country.

Do you want something small, intimate and private? Or are you looking for a bigger development that will have more perks and amenities but might be noisier?

There’s no wrong answer here! It simply depends on your preferences.

Take a minute to picture yourself in your ideal community. This will help guide your selection process when it comes to size.

Consider HOA Fees

Before you sign a contract, you should familiarize yourself with the Homeowners Association (HOA) of your selected community.

An HOA is an association whose sole purpose is to take care of and improve the properties in your community. To fund these efforts, you’ll be required to a pay a fee, either monthly or annually.

Do your research to see what the HOA covers in your potential communities. Often in 55+ developments, these fees also cover golf courses, streets, and large common areas that you can reserve.

Another great perk of HOAs is that they will landscape your yard, including mowing your grass. No more yard work for you!

These fees average around $200 or $300 but can range in price up to $600 or $700 a month in the more luxurious developments. Check the price of yours before you purchase a home.

Check out the Lifestyle and Amenities

We’ve briefly discussed amenities. But this is a major consideration you should make when choosing your community.

Based on your lifestyle, interests, and hobbies, you should find a place that caters to your needs.

Do you like to swim? Play tennis? Go to exercise classes?

Depending on your development, these are all options. Bigger, resort-style communities will have even more offerings but often cost more.

However, even smaller developments usually have a clubhouse, tennis court, and pool.

Below is a list of other common amenities in 55+ communities. Check them out and then decide which ones are most important to you.

  • Exercise facilities
  • Golf course
  • Dining rooms
  • Social activities
  • Wellness clinics
  • Pool parties
  • Scheduled shuttle transportation
  • Spiritual meetings

Which of these stand out most to you? Thinking about that will give you some more direction.

Buy at the Right Time

Keep in mind that you can often get a better deal when you buy at the ideal time. This is usually right when the local high season is ending. This is when prices drop.

For example, in southern areas like Arizona or Florida, this is usually in May and June. During this time, it starts to get hotter and fewer people are interested in buying.

This lull can motivate sellers to drop prices which can mean you get a great deal.

How’s the Nearby Healthcare?

Having quality healthcare nearby is a must. You want to be near a hospital in case you ever need emergency care. This is especially true as you continue to age.

It’s also important to consider your health care options in your community as your age. For example, are assisted living options available? Is there a nursing home onsite?

If so, this can make your possible transition much easier because you won’t even have to leave your community.

Also, do some research to see the ratings and reviews of the nearby doctors. You’ll want to have a highly rated physician to work with.

Research the Age Restrictions

Last but not least, think about the age restrictions in your prospective communities. Some developments have a strict 55+ rule.

Many retirees prefer this because it means that you won’t have to share common spaces like the multipurpose room and pool with people much younger than you.

But what if you’re 52 and want to move into one right now? Those areas are available too, often called age-targeted communities. These are developments aimed at the 55+ market but that accept anyone.

This is nice is you’re accustomed to having young kids around in the neighborhood. Or if you have a child or grandchild living with you, this is your best option.

What’s Next?

Well, there you have it: everything you need to know before buying a home in a 55 and older community.

Now that you’ve read through these tips, it’s important to consider your personal preferences. What things matter most to you? What parts do you not care about?

Here are 8 Questions to Help You Decide if a 55+ Retirement Community is Right for You.

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